Fairbanks, Alaska had a lot in store for us. Once we got to the town center we had a few hours before the incredible paddle wheel trip on the Chena River. So we found a great sculpture of the Native Alaskans. But what was waiting on the river cruise was something special. This river is home to Susan Butcher’s husband and the sled dogs in training for the Iditarod. Susan won the famed sled dog race three times in a row and four times in her life. Unfortunately, she died of cancer several years ago. Her legacy lives on with her family, her husband, future female Iditarod racers and a book about the incredible lead dog that made all her wins possible. That lead dog was named Granite. The book tells the story of how Granite began life as the runt of the litter. Susan attached herself to him immediately as she saw a true leader. She nutured him when he fell ill and was deemed incapable of ever being a part of the team and certainly not leading it. But Susan proved all pronouncements to be untrue and once he became strong she selected him to lead her team. We saw some of the young sled dogs picking up the skills necessary to work on the team and hopefully a future Iditarod winner. This young woman is being mentored by David Monson (Susan’s husband who has also been a winner of the race). We got to see all this up close on the cruise and at the Athabascian Chena Village on the river. At the village we saw how the Athabascian people lived, what they wore, how they cooked and the animals in their habitat. But at the village got to have our books about Granite signed by David Monson. What an incredible experience. Other photos of Fairbanks show a city that has adapted to the vast temperature variations from summer in the 90’s to winter at minus 40 degrees or more. Believe it or not – this is a great winter destination. The aurora borealis is there in winter and they also have an ice hotel and hot springs an hour away. I’d certainly go back.